When To Buy Travel Insurance (2024)

When To Buy Travel Insurance (1)

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When To Buy Travel Insurance (2)

Author: Tommy Lloyd, Managing Director

Tommy has over 15 years experience within the insurance industry, and his primary focus is helping travellers find the right cover for their medical conditions.

Last updated: 20th Mar 2024

When should I purchase travel insurance?

Our comprehensive guide is here to explain the best time to book travel insurance, ensuring you're well-informed and prepared for your next adventure. We'll explore the ins and outs of travel insurance, including the prime time to purchase it, to guarantee your peace of mind from the moment you book your trip to the time you return home.

Strap in, and let's simplify this essential aspect of buying travel insurance together, making sure you're covered every step of the way!

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Do I need travel insurance?

Have you ever wondered why travel insurance seems like just another item on your already extensive holiday checklist? The answer is simple.

Travel insurance acts as your safety net, offering peace of mind for those unexpected moments that life throws your way. Whether it's an unforeseen medical emergency, trip cancellations, lost luggage, or any number of inconveniences, travel insurance is there to ensure these hiccups don't turn into major setbacks.

It's not just about covering costs; it's about providing support and assistance when you're far from home. Just like a dependable friend, travel insurance has your back, allowing you to fully immerse in your adventures with one less worry.

The ideal time to purchase your travel insurance primarily hinges on the type of cover you're looking for—whether it's a single trip policy or an annual multi-trip policy.

When should I buy single trip travel insurance?

For those planning a one-off holiday, a single trip policy is your go-to. It also offers the flexibility to include multiple destinations within the same trip.

The golden rule is to buy your insurance as soon as you book your trip. This move will make you a savvy traveller because it means you're immediately protected against any pre-departure mishaps, like cancellations or health issues that prevent you from travelling. Essentially, the earlier you sort out your travel insurance cover, the sooner you're shielded against potential financial losses.

When should I buy annual multi-trip travel insurance?

If you're a frequent flyer, darting off on multiple adventures throughout the year, an annual multi-trip policy could be the most cost-effective and convenient option.

Unlike single trip insurance, where cancellation cover becomes active immediately after policy payment, cancellation cover for annual multi-tripbegins from the policy start date.

For example, if you purchase your policy today but it doesn't start until 4 weeks from now, you won't have cancellation protection during those 4 weeks. This situation shouldn't be problematic as long as you haven't already made bookings or incurred expenses for a holiday. However, it is advisable to align the start date of your annual policy with the day of payment, just to be on the safe side.

By synchronising the policy start date with the payment date, you ensure continuous coverage and peace of mind throughout the entire duration of your policy. This added level of detail ensures that you are fully protected right from the moment you pay for your annual multi-trip travel insurance.

When To Buy Travel Insurance (4)

What does Martin Lewis say about when to buy travel insurance?

Martin Lewis, a renowned financial guru and consumer champion in the UK, is a trusted resource for practical, sound advice on a wide range of monetary matters—including travel insurance.

Martin recommends purchasing insurance immediately after booking your holiday to secure coverage for unforeseen events before your trip commences. He is notably recognised for his 'ASAB' motto - 'As Soon As You Book'. This strategy is especially vital for safeguarding against cancellations or illnesses that might hinder your travel plans.

Martin's advice underscores the importance of thinking about insurance as an integral part of booking your holiday, rather than a last-minute add-on. By following this guidance, travellers can secure their financial investment in their travels and enjoy their holiday planning with an added layer of security and peace of mind.

How far in advance can you buy travel insurance?

Many travel insurance providers allow you to purchase a policy up to 12 months before your trip. This flexibility is ideal for those who enjoy planning in advance, ensuring that all the finer details of your holiday are sorted out well ahead of time.

However, while you can secure coverage early, the cancellation protection usually begins from the date you buy the policy—not from when you booked your trip or the travel start date. This distinction is important because it means any events that might affect your ability to travel, which you were aware of before purchasing the insurance, might not be covered.

Essentially, getting your travel insurance shortly after booking your trip provides the best combination of foresight and protection. It's a strategy that strikes a balance between the early planner's desire to organise everything in advance and the main purpose of insurance, which is to safeguard against the unexpected.

When is it too late to buy travel insurance?

When it comes to securing travel insurance, timing is everything. While it's highly recommended to purchase your policy as soon as your trip is booked, you might wonder how late is too late?

You cannot buy travel insurance once you've encountered a situation where you need to make a claim. For example, if you're already facing delays at the airport, experiencing a medical emergency, or have learned of a natural disaster at your destination, it's too late to obtain travel insurance to cover these specific events.

Furthermore, most travel insurance companies have a cut-off point for purchasing insurance, typically up to 24 hours before your scheduled departure. However, this does vary between providers, so it's essential to check the terms and conditions carefully. Remember, the purpose of travel insurance is to protect against unforeseen incidents. By attempting to purchase a policy after an event has occurred, or very close to your departure, you negate the principle of unforeseen risk, which is a fundamental aspect of insurance.

How long does travel insurance last?

Travel insurance duration varies significantly between single trip policies and annual multi-trip policies, each tailored to different travel habits and needs.

Asingle trip policy is designed to cover you for the duration of one specific holiday or trip, starting from the moment you leave your home to when you return. The length of coverage can be varied to cater to short getaways or longer adventures. It's imperative to accurately declare the length of your trip when purchasing the policy to ensure you're fully covered for the entire duration.

Alternatively, an annual multi-trip insurance policy offers protection for multiple journeys over a year, each trip typically limited to a specific number of days, often around 31 days. The duration may vary depending on the insurance provider, so be sure to choose a policy that meets your needs. If any of your planned trips exceed your policy's per-trip duration limit, you'll need to seek an extension or consider alternative cover for that trip.

Whether you choose a single trip or an annual multi-trip policy, ensuring the duration matches your travel plans is crucial to make sure you're covered.

When should I buy cover for a UK holiday?

Planning a holiday within the UK might not seem as though it carries quite the same risks as international travel, but you'd be surprised at how valuable having travel insurance can be, even for a staycation. The best time to purchase travel insurance for a UK holiday is immediately after you've booked your accommodation, transport, or any non-refundable activities. This timing ensures that you're covered for any unforeseen events like cancellation or an emergency that could occur even before your holiday starts.

It's especially crucial if your UK holiday involves booking ahead for popular attractions, prepaid train tickets, or non-refundable hotel stays. While the UK healthcare system negates the need for medical cover, travel insurance can cover other unexpected costs, such as cancellation, loss of personal belongings, or having to cut your holiday short.

Remember, the principle of expecting the unexpected applies just as much to holidays at home as it does to those abroad. By securing your insurance right after making your bookings, you can enjoy your UK break with that extra peace of mind, knowing that should plans go awry, you're protected.

When To Buy Travel Insurance (5)

When should I buy travel insurance for a cruise?

Sorting out your travel insurance when you book your cruise holiday is a smart move. Cruises are unique among holidays for several reasons, notably their high cost and the range of potential disruptions that could affect your plans - such as itinerary changes, cancellations, or even medical emergencies while at sea. Purchasing your travel insurance early ensures that you're covered for cancellations or non-refundable expenses due to unforeseen circ*mstances leading up to your departure.

Moreover, when thinking about the particular requirements of cruising, like being confined to your cabin because of illness, missing port departures, and the challenges of needing medical evacuation from a ship, it's essential to choose an insurance policy designed for cruise travel.

This specialisation underscores the importance of arranging your cover as soon as your cruise is booked, guaranteeing that every aspect of your unique holiday experience is protected.

What if I’ve left it late to buy travel insurance?

If you've realised that you've left it a bit late to buy travel insurance, don't panic just yet. There might still be options available to ensure you're covered for your trip. Here are a few steps you can take:

  • Check with Last-Minute Insurers:Some insurance providers specialise in last-minute travel insurance, understanding that life can get in the way of the best-laid plans. These policies might come with higher premiums and certain limitations, but they're better than setting off without any cover at all.
  • Review Your Package Account Benefits: Certain bank accounts or credit cards offer travel insurance as part of their benefits package. If you've used one of these accounts or cards to book your trip, you might already have some level of cover in place. Make sure to check the extent of this cover to ensure it meets your needs.
  • Talk to Your Existing Insurance Providers:If you already have some form of insurance, such as home or health insurance, it's worth giving them a call. Sometimes, they can offer travel insurance as an add-on to your existing policy.

Preparing early is always the best approach, but knowing there are backup options can save a lot of stress and worry.

What parts of my travel insurance protect me before I depart?

Understanding which parts of your travel insurance cover apply before you depart, as opposed to those that protect you while you're abroad, is key to making the most of your policy.

Before your departure, benefits typically include cancellation cover, which enables you to claim back non-refundable costs if you have to cancel your trip due to unforeseen circ*mstances like illness or bereavement. There’s also often cover for travel delays or if you miss your departure due to reasons beyond your control, such as a car breakdown on the way to the airport.

Once you’re abroad, your travel insurance shifts focus towards protecting you during your holiday. This includes medical expenses for any injuries or illnesses, cover for lost or stolen baggage, and support in the event of travel disruptions, such as natural disasters or industrial action. Additionally, many policies offer personal liability cover in case you accidentally injure someone or damage property while on your trip.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Cancellation amounts will be per person. So, if you were going on a trip for 2 people which cost £1,000 in total you would ideally need cancellation cover for at least £500.

If you don't travel much then a single trip cover is perfect as you can cover specific dates suited to your trip. If you have cancellation cover, you'll also benefit from this as soon as you buy your policy.

If you travel 2 or more times a year, it may be cheaper for you to go for an annual multi-trip cover. It's best to start your annual trip cover as soon as possible, as if you have cancellation cover, you'll only benefit from this from your policy start date.

No. We can search for travel insurance quotes for all ages. However, the number of annual multi-trip quotes for older travellers may be limited due to age restrictions imposed by the providers that we search. If you are unable to get an annual trip quote, try a single trip quote instead.

You will need to add each country that you are visiting. If you are on a flight stopover this will include any countries where you leave the airport. If you are on a cruise it includes any countries where your ship will be docking at.

A pre-existing condition is a diagnosed medical condition that existed before taking out a policy. We'll ask a series of questions about the medical history for you and any travellers on your quote. If you answer yes to any of these, you will need to tell us about the traveller's conditions. This could be a condition that a traveller has now or has had in the past. If you are not sure what conditions you need to declare, we have online support available to help you 24/7!

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Editorial Disclaimer:

We’re a specialist comparison website that provides people with pre-existing medical conditions an easy way to find suitable travel insurance. You’ll find a range of guides, articles and tips across our site. Whilst we always aim to provide the most accurate information and guidance, we can’t always guarantee that the information contained in the pages of our website is correct. Because of this, we can’t accept liability if things go wrong and you use the information at your own risk.

  • This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. You should always consult a medical professional to ensure you are healthy and fit enough to travel.
  • The information on our site does not constitute financial advice. Always do your own research for your specific circ*mstances as the information contained within this site is built to offer generic, not bespoke guidance.
  • We always endeavour to provide accurate product and price information, but products and rates issued by our panel of providers are live and subject to changes outside of our control and without warning.
  • Occasionally we link to other websites to provide you with additional information or guidance. We can’t be responsible for their content.
  • We aren’t owned by any insurance companies (or have any favourites) so the information we present on our website is unbiased.
Financial Disclaimer:

Medical Travel Compared is a trading name of Aequotech Limited who is authorised and regulated by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (20376) to provide general insurance intermediary services within the travel insurance sector. Medical Travel Compared trade into the UK on a freedom of services basis (Financial Conduct Authority Firm Reference Number 677661).

Aequotech Limited is registered in Gibraltar, Company Number 111831. Registered Office: First Floor, Grand Ocean Plaza, Ocean Village, Gibraltar.

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When To Buy Travel Insurance (2024)


How many days before should you buy travel insurance? ›

If you're wondering when you should buy travel insurance, the simple answer is as soon as possible. Ideally, you'll buy coverage no later than 15 days prior to your trip.

How long before Travelling should you get travel insurance? ›

Buy travel insurance as soon as you know your travel dates. That way you're covered if your trip is cancelled before you even leave or if you're unable to travel at all.

Is it better to buy travel insurance early or late? ›

It's smart to buy travel insurance immediately after booking for two reasons. One: You won't forget! Far too many travelers postpone buying travel insurance and then realize, too late, that they forgot to buy it at all. And two: The earlier you buy insurance, the bigger your coverage window.

What date should you put on travel insurance? ›

The best time to secure travel insurance is immediately after booking your holiday.

Does travel insurance get more expensive closer to the trip? ›

Unlike other aspects of your travel experience like airfares or hotel-room rates, the price of travel insurance doesn't increase the closer you get to your travel date. There's no financial penalty if you wait to buy travel insurance (except for those bonus coverages, of course).

What does travel insurance not cover? ›

Travelling against medical advice or to get medical treatment. If your doctor says it's not safe for you to travel, then you won't be covered. Similarly, if you go abroad to get planned treatment, sometimes called 'medical tourism', a standard policy will not cover this – you'll need specialist insurance instead.

What is the best travel insurance company? ›

Our Rankings of the Best Travel Insurance Companies of 2024
  • Faye: Our top pick.
  • Travelex Insurance: Our pick for families.
  • Nationwide Travel Insurance: Our pick for cruise travel.
  • Tin Leg Travel Insurance: Our pick for customizable coverage.
  • Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection: Our pick for luxury travelers.
4 days ago

What's the best international travel insurance? ›

WorldTrips is the best travel insurance company of 2024, based on our in-depth analysis of travel insurance policies. Its Atlas Journey Preferred and Atlas Journey Premier plans get 5 stars in our rating because of the extensive coverage they provide for the price.

What is the average cost of travel insurance? ›

According to our research, the average cost of travel insurance is $204, but you could pay anywhere between $14 and $765 for travel insurance. While this may seem like a wide price range, it's important to understand that travel insurance is not a “one price fits all” purchase.

Does travel insurance cover cancelled flights? ›

Cancellation cover is a common inclusion with most standard travel insurance policies, but you can take it out separately if it doesn't offer enough cover. Alternatively, if you only want cancellation cover to protect you against cancelled flights rather than baggage protection, you can get it for that.

Is Allianz travel insurance good? ›

We at the MarketWatch Guides team awarded Allianz Travel Insurance 4.1 out of 5 stars based on our provider review methodology. Named our pick for concierge services, Allianz offers 24/7 travel assistance through a multilingual team, which can help policyholders with travel and coverage issues while abroad.

Do credit cards have flight insurance? ›

Your credit card's trip cancellation insurance may reimburse you for prepaid flights and hotel stays booked with your credit card. Trip interruption insurance (for trips that end earlier than planned) may cover expenses like the cost of a last-minute flight home.

Can I buy travel insurance 3 days before trip? ›

You'll simply need to make the purchase at least one day before travel. However, there are some types of coverage that you'll need to buy soon after booking or they won't be available. These include Cancel for Any Reason insurance as well as pre-existing medical condition insurance.

Is travel insurance necessary for international travel? ›

A travel insurance policy generally costs 4% to 10% of the cost of a trip. Seriously consider buying travel insurance if you're taking a nonrefundable trip or traveling internationally.

Do I get travel insurance with my bank? ›

All the big high street banks offer packaged current accounts. In return for a monthly fee, accountholders get a package of perks or benefits such as car breakdown, gadget cover and travel insurance.

How much should travel insurance cost? ›

The average cost of travel insurance is about 3% to 5% of a trip's total value, according to quotes gathered by our research team across different travel insurance providers for various traveler profiles.

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